The university's student government on Tuesday began a campus-wide effort that will continue through the end of the school's fundraising campaign in 2013.
The university says a billion pennies is worth $10 million and would stretch 11,837 miles if laid flat.
The university says it already has raised $638 million toward its $1 billion campaign goal.
UC President Greg Williams got the student part of the campaign rolling Tuesday by pouring a coffee mug full of pennies into a collection jar.
UC trustees also contributed a huge jar with thousands of pennies.
The Associated Press