The search for the next master of Pierson College has begun, University President Richard Levin and Yale College Dean Mary Miller announced in a Monday email to Pierson students.

A search committee, composed of several Pierson students and fellows and chaired by history professor Paul Freedman, will advise the administration during the selection process.

“We will rely heavily on the counsel of the whole College community during this important search,” Levin and Miller said, adding that they are encouraging students to communicate directly with the committee about their hopes for the next master.

When the new master is appointed, he or she will have big shoes to fill. Current Pierson Master Harvey Goldblatt, who will step down from his post at the end of the 2012-’13 academic year, has served as master for 18 years and was well-loved by many Piersonites.

Questioning whether Goldblatt had been pressured to leave his post in part because of his resistance to reductions in Pierson’s budget, students and alumni circulated a petition last February urging the administration to reconsider and extend Goldblatt’s term. As of late February, the petition had approximately 700 signatures, according to the author, Jeffrey Hartsough ’12.