NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Eamon Kelly, president of Tulane University for 18 years, announced Wednesday he will retire in June 1998.

Kelly, 60, said he wanted to give the university a chance to start its long-term planning for the next century.

``With all that is pending, I decided now is the time to make the decision,'' Kelly said. He said there was no pressure from board members or others at the university to step down.

During Kelly's tenure, Tulane, a private institution with 11,000 students, increased its net worth from $200 million to about $600 million. The endowment increased from $50 million to $406 million. With about 6,000 faculty and staff, the university is the largest employer in New Orleans.

Board Chairman John Weinmann said a search committee will be appointed to look for a successor. Kelly said he will not be involved.

Kelly, an economist who moved to Tulane from the Ford Foundation in 1979, said his toughest times came while unifying the faculties of the colleges of arts and sciences and in closing down the university basketball program during a point-shaving scandal in the 1980s.

The program was started up again in 1989. Last year, the team made the final four of the National Invitation Tournament.