The University of Tennessee is making a big promise: Starting in 2020, the system will offer free tuition to qualifying low-income students enrolling at its Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin campuses.

The program, called UT Promise, is the first of its kind among public universities in the South. UT Interim President Randy Boyd, a first-generation college graduate himself, is the architect of the program. Boyd joined On Second Thought from WUOT in Knoxville to explain why Tennessee is making this promise, how the university will fund it and how other Southern states could follow suit. 

 On Second Thought for Tuesday, April 9, 2019

In 2017, thousands evacuated Southeast Texas in preparation for Hurricane Harvey. As they sped down the highway away from the storm, one car drove toward it. Inside it was Russell Lewis.

Officially, Lewis is NPR's Southern Bureau chief, but he's also known as the go-to guy on NPR's "go team," which covers earthquakes, fires, flood and other disasters; both natural and man-made. Lewis is often the first member of the team on a plane and on the ground, setting up logistics, drivers, translators and supplies in places where systems have broken down, so NPR can bring those events to listeners.

Lewis joined On Second Thought from WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama. We asked him how he connects with communities to tell their stories in the wake of tragedies.


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