School of Built Environment & Development Studies

UKZN Academic First Black woman in SA to achieve milestone of Full Professorship in Town and Town and Regional Planning

Prof Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha-Chipungu

In a series of firsts, Professor Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha-Chipungu has propelled herself to the top of her field and made history as the first Black woman in South Africa to obtain full professorship in Town and Regional Planning, trumping her previous status as the first Black woman in South Africa to hold a PhD in regional planning from UKZN.

An inspiration to countless aspiring planners and researchers and with an academic journey marked by significant achievements, including a host of peer-reviewed publications, the recent publication of a book on the anatomy of inclusive cities in southern Africa Magidimisha-Chipungu’s research excellence includes milestones of becoming a youngest SARChI chair for Inclusive cities, National Planning Commissioner, Member of ISOCARP scientific committee, Alternate chair for the South African Council for Planners,  a committee member of the KZN Planning Tribunal and member of eThekwini planning commission among others.

A driving force for creating cities which are more inclusive, smart, and resilient, Magidimisha-Chipungu is founder and chief editor of the Journal of Inclusive Cities and Built Environments, she actively advocates for urban environments that cater to the diverse needs of their inhabitants. “I share a vision with many to create positive urban transformation for the benefit of all people. I am an eternal optimistic and believe that greatness can be achieved through hard work, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to creating positive change in our cities and societies”, she said.

Extending warm congratulations, Dean and Head of School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Professor Ernest Khalema said,’ The promotion to full professor of Professor Magidimisha-Chipungu is testament of the UKZN’s commitment to excellence through leadership that is at the heart of what drives her work ethic and values. We are proud of her, particularly her world record-breaking accomplishments, mentorship, and tenacity to date, and we look forward to increased trailblazing as the only female full Professor in her field of Town and Regional Planning in the nation’. 

Sharing details of her journey to becoming a full professor, Magidimisha-Chipungu emphasized that attaining this achievement demands extensive training and an unwavering commitment, encompassing years of dedication to academia, effectively mentoring students, imparting knowledge through teaching, engaging with the community, and establishing both national and international recognition.

Gearing up for more to come, she said: ‘I would not have gotten this far without the help of my family, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, colleagues, friends, and students,’ she said. I feel I am ready for phase two of my career. I plan to spend coming years trying to mentor more planners to become the best version of themselves including becoming full professors’, added Magidimisha-Chipungu. She encouraged people to strive to be always the best version of themselves as destinations may not be the same, she said: ‘Stay in your lane and concentrate; you will get there’.

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