PROVO Professor Steven Jones and Brigham Young University finalized a retirement package Friday, six weeks after the school placed the physicist on paid leave to review his statements and research about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
"I am electing to retire so that I can spend more time speaking and conducting research of my own choosing," Jones said in a statement released by the university. "I appreciate the wonderful opportunity I have had to teach and serve and do research at BYU for more than 21 years."
Jones and BYU worked on the package for weeks, Jones said in an interview with the Deseret Morning News. The university abandoned its review of his 9/11-related work Friday after the agreement was reached, university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.
Jones' retirement is effective Jan. 1. He hasn't decided what he'll do next, though he has received a feeler from another school and intends to keep talking about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Both sides declined to release details about the retirement package, but Jones said he was told it was pretty standard.
"The university's been great," he said. "I feel like they've been fair with me in this settlement we've reached in this retirement. I feel pretty chipper."
Jenkins said BYU's aborted review, which was expected to last the rest of the semester, was still in the early stages.
"It was at the department level, and we were still in the process of putting together a review panel," she said.
Jones submitted a letter to the editor of the Deseret Morning News via e-mail Friday afternoon. Written two weeks ago, the letter did not mention his decision to retire and avoided any reference to BYU. In it, Jones renounced the Iraqi War, questioned the official explanations of the collapses of the World Trade Center towers and expressed concern that a future terrorist attack might be blamed on Iran or Syria to justify American aggression against those nations.
"I stand firmly against the war in Iraq and any war of aggression," Jones wrote. "I support scientific scrutiny of the events of 9/11/2001, a day which will live in infamy."
BYU stripped Jones of two classes he was teaching when the university placed him on paid leave on Sept. 7 to review a paper he wrote about the physics behind the collapse of three towers on Sept. 11. He published a paper saying experiments he conducted at BYU on material from ground zero and other evidence led him to believe the towers fell because pre-set explosives were detonated throughout the buildings after the hijacked jets struck the Twin Towers.
BYU planned to review the paper to see if it met scientific standards of peer review. The university also expected to look at statements made by Jones at conferences and in the media and determine if Jones was appropriately distancing himself from BYU when he spoke about his explosives theory.
Jones said Friday he welcomed the review because he hoped it would encourage people to read his paper for themselves. He said he feels a responsibility to bring attention to questions about what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
"My stewardship is to get people thinking about and studying these things," he said. "I have my stewardship, and I'm going to keep going at it doggedly. The administrators (at BYU) have their stewardship. We both were just doing our best in our stewardships, and I'm not mad at them at all. I sense it is a friendly type of arrangement. It's probably the best thing, and we'll move on. I feel good about it."
A member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, co-founded by Jones in December 2005, launched a drive to get 10,000 signatures on a petition in support of Jones to send to BYU President Cecil Samuelson. As of Friday afternoon, the petition had 2,924 signatures.
James Fetzer, the other co-founder of the scholars group, published an open letter to Samuelson on www. scholarsfor911truth.org. Fetzer wrote that the buildings were constructed to withstand impact from airplanes and the fires that resulted. Physics can't explain the rapid, pancaking fall of the towers either, he said.
Jones said he hoped news coverage of his retirement would spur media organizations to print his entire letter and explore his paper at www.Journalof911Studies.com.
Jones' letter quoted two Swiss researchers who announced last month that they believe explosives were responsible for the collapse of the building not struck by a plane.
He closed the letter saying he wants to avoid a military draft to fight what he considers unnecessary wars.
"Because of my concern for college-age students I have taught and loved for decades, I am motivated to speak out emphatically against what I judge after thorough study and reflection to be terrible wars, wars of aggression, founded on deceptions."
Jones will finish the semester by transferring duties as chairman of a committee within the Physics Department to his successor and working with students under his tutelage to complete their research.He said his wife hopes he'll spend more time with her and at their home in Sanpete County.
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