Virginia Governor Charles S. Robb congratulated more than 2,000 graduates of George Mason University yesterday for being prepared to enter a rapidly changing, highly technological society.

Speaking under threatening skies at the university's 16th spring graduation ceremonies, Robb said that the basic shifts occurring in the American economy make the skills acquired at George Mason more important than ever.

"As jobs grow less abundant in our basic industries, as information science and the technologies associated with it become prominent in a new economic order, the importance of the well-educated and well-trained citizen, and hence the work done in universities, grows ever more vital to our wellbeing," the governor said. Robb also told the conferees that they "have stakes--lifelong stakes of which you can always be proud in this experiment that is George Mason . . . . "

A land-grant institution that grew out of the Northern Virginia extension of the Univeristy of Virginia in 1958, George Mason became an independent university in 1972. Since that time, enrollment has grown from about 4,000 students to nearly 15,000.

Robb congratulated the school on its rapid growth, but added that the state could no longer build new institutions "from the ground up." Recession, he said, has shown that "growth is finite, prosperity is fragile."

The university awarded 1,500 bachelor's, 447 master's, and 131 law degrees. In addition, the university's first doctorate degree--in education--was awarded to Carolyn Kreiter-Kurylo of Burke.

The ceremony was not without its lighter moments. At one point, university registrar Michael J. McDermott Jr. caught a windblown American flag just before it bopped the governor on the back of the head. A few minutes later, rain began to fall while Robb was speaking, so McDermott let go of the flag and produced a large green and yellow umbrella, which he held over the governor during his speech.